Prep School: Café Belong chef Brad Long on what to make of garlic scapes

Prep School: Café Belong chef Brad Long on what to make of garlic scapes

Café Belong chef Brad Long was cooking with these curly stems back when they were considered compost. Here, he offers three ways to prep them at home

Prep School: Brad Long, Café Belong

Prep School: Brad Long, Café BelongI first encountered scapes, the twisted stalks that shoot off garlic bulbs, at a veggie stand in Kensington Market back in the ’80s. I had never seen such strange, corkscrew-shaped things. At that time they were an exotic, hard-to-find ingredient. Now, with the local, seasonal boom, they’re all over markets and grocery stores, but only for a short time in late June and early July. I try to buy a year’s worth at the Brick Works farmers’ market and pickle them. They have an intense leek-like flavour that adds kick to just about any dish. I use them so often that my year’s supply is usually gone by November.

On steak. Chop several raw stalks, toss them in olive oil, then pulse in a food processor until they’re the consistency of apple sauce. Rub the mixture on steaks and add a pinch of salt before grilling.

On kale. Finely chop the scapes and add a quarter-teaspoon to a bunch of sautéed kale with a squirt of lemon. The scapes take the bitter umami flavour of kale to the next level.

On everything. Blanch the stalks, cut off the quill-like tips and sprinkle them on soups, pastas or salads for an impressive and tasty garnish.

(Images: Dish by Shutterstock; Long by Erin Leydon)